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Shock Casualty Statistics Would Spell Disaster for Russia, Putin

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A Russian newspaper published a casualty statistic on Moscow’s losses in Ukraine on Monday, according to a translation from the chief foreign-affairs correspondent of The Wall Street Journal.

Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-Kremin outlet, claimed that 9,861 Russian soldiers had died in the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and that 16,153 had been injured, according to a tweet from the Ukrainian-born Yaroslav Trofimov.

The outlet cited the Russian Ministry of Defense in the statistic, emphasizing a rejection of Ukraine’s even higher casualty figures.

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Pravda’s article was quickly edited to remove the casualty count altogether after its publication. However, web archives of the story remain online.

Pravda claimed it had been “hacked” in regard to the casualty count in the article.

Ukrainian estimations of Russian casualties have been even higher. The Kyiv Independent maintains that 15,000 Russian troops have died in the invasion, citing sources in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

American estimates of Russian casualties fall between Ukraine’s claims and the figure briefly published in Komsomolskaya Pravda. American intelligence officials estimated that around 7,000 Russian troops had been killed since the beginning of the conflict, speaking to The New York Times.

The American officials emphasized that calculating war casualties is an inexact science at best. Casualty figures vary in times of war, with opposing states keen to inflate the losses suffered by the enemy and to minimize their own.

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If the figure published by Pravda is real, it would make Russia’s invasion a bloody disaster for Putin.

The United States government has released figures indicating 4,431 American troops died in Iraq — fewer than half of Russia’s reported casualties in Ukraine after only a month.

The only official Russian casualty count released to the public — on March 2 — claimed that 498 personnel had died, according to The Hill.

Vladimir Putin’s government enacted a law criminalizing the publication of so-called “fake news” on the military shortly after the conflict, according to The Times.

The law is likely to chill any further Russian leaks regarding official casualty counts.

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